They may be known as man’s best friend, but pups might not be the first thing that come to mind when sorting out community affairs. However, that’s not the case in Queen Village. Jaclyn Kelly and Dara Slott are not only owners of Pet Snobs Boutique, but also acting co-chairs of Queen Village K9, a social group for dog owners. For eight years, their main concern has been to better the lives of the canines in the neighborhood. The group members work together to help maintain the local dog run in Mario Lanza Park that borders Catherine and Queen streets, in between 2nd and 3rd streets. Dogs and their owners are able to enjoy a safe and open environment despite the urban setting that they’re in. Kelly and Slott are passionate about making their community a better place for everyone to live, whether they’re a dog owner or not. They opened up about what QVK9 is and how the park is beneficial not only to dogs, but people too.
What does QVK9 do for the community?
Dara Slott (above, left): We are a subsection of the Queen Village Neighborhood Association and we mainly support the dog community and the neighborhood. One of our main focuses is the Mario Lanza Dog Park. We maintenance that and take care of it, and we host community events to bring lots of animal lovers together and make the park as awesome as we can make it.
Jaclyn Kelly (above, right): We try to bring the community together and participate in taking care of a public space. We maintain the dog run in Mario Lanza Park and it is a space that you use for dogs that are friendly. The dirt that’s there is specific for dogs. It’s a place where they can run around, be social and learn dog manners. People can get to know each other and each other’s dogs, and get to know the neighbors and not be anti-social.
What are some of your duties as co-chairs of QVK9?
Jaclyn Kelly: We are doing constant marketing for the space and making sure things are getting done. We want to upgrade the park. The electric is not really working so well for lighting. We’re thinking about changing the gravel that’s there into a faux grass. We try to do seminars and have vendors come out to have people learn more about pet insurance, healthy eating or vets, and things they wouldn’t necessarily know.
What impact does the dog run at Mario Lanza Park have on the neighborhood?
Dara Slott: It’s definitely a place for people to come together and get to know others in the neighborhood and especially in the dog community. It’s good for dogs to have interaction, and then owners can also socialize and take care of our neighborhood.
Jaclyn Kelly: You get to meet people that you wouldn’t have met otherwise in all different walks of life. You learn about public service and how to take care of city space. I have black thumbs – I have no idea how to take care of anything like that – so I go into that park and I learn how to do gravel and weeds. You learn about things you wouldn’t otherwise. You don’t get that opportunity in such an urban setting since there’s not a lot of greenery around here.
What impact does the park have on the dogs?
Jaclyn Kelly: It works them physically, it works their minds. They learn manners. They get a lot of the excess energy and have a good time. They meet other dogs, big and small. It’s great for socialization and that’s so important for dogs.
Where does the money go that you raise at events?
Dara Slott: It’s always for QVK9 although we do have a team for this month’s Mutt Strut, so funds will go towards Paws and that rescue which we love. We have “Painting With a Purpose” events at our local Painting with a Twist, so funds from that will go towards a lighting project we’re working on for the park. So we do different thing throughout the year, but mainly it goes towards the nonprofit organization and fixing up the park.
How many dogs show up each day?
Jaclyn Kelly: Probably a few dozen. It’s hard to say because different things matter like rain and weather. There are usually small spurts of crowds. Especially in the city where there’s not a lot of outside space, and everyone lives on top of each other, it’s great to have that space to just throw your dogs somewhere and get out all that excess energy just go home and relax.
What do you hope for the community in years to come with QVK9?
Dara Slott: I hope to bring animal lovers together and make the park as awesome as we can make it.
– Text and images by Kylie Winkler and Marissa Giletto